Body focuses on people's rights
The parliamentary special committee on constitution amendment is now looking for ways to further consolidate citizens' fundamental rights true to the aspirations of the constitution of 1972.
It identified some articles for special attention to see how those can be amended so that the spirit of the 1972 constitution is upheld, sources in the special committee said.
The committee during a meeting Tuesday made the decision for in-depth scrutiny of the articles and asked all its members to study them and place their opinion in the next meeting, they added.
"We will hold more discussions on it. We are thinking what can be done based on reality and relevance to the socio-political situation," Suranjit Sengupta, co-chair of the special committee, told The Daily Star Thursday.
The constitution of 1972 left no scope for suspension of any fundamental rights and for preventive detention of any Bangladesh citizen.
It also upheld the preeminence of fundamental rights declaring that laws inconsistent with fundamental rights to be void and the state shall not make any law inconsistent with any provision of fundamental rights stipulated in part-III of the constitution.
However, citizens' fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution lost preeminence due to a number of changes to the constitution.
The changes brought to the constitution in 1973 introduced the provision for proclamation of emergency and suspension of some fundamental rights during the emergency period.
It also introduced the provision for preventive detention and later the government enacted the Special Powers Act in 1974 to this end.
Even Article-26 of the constitution, which had declared preeminence of fundamental rights, was amended in 1973. It then said nothing in the article shall apply to any amendment to the constitution made under Article-142, which deals with the procedure to amend the constitution.
On citizens' fundamental rights, two members of the parliamentary special body told The Daily Star that it is now very difficult to restore the spirit of the original constitution.
They said the situation has become more complicated since 1972. The original constitution of 1972 had banned politics based on religion.
Now a special committee has decided to propose easing the stringent restrictions so that Islamic political parties can continue functioning, they said.
"Everybody has been speaking against the Special Powers Act of 1974. Political parties, when they are in opposition, criticise the act but the successive governments never scrapped the law," a member of the special committee said.
He said the committee will see if there is any scope to do something to better protect fundamental rights.
The committee might again invite constitution experts to have their opinions on the issue. It may again talk to the Prime Minister and Leader of the House Sheikh Hasina about it, the committee member said.